Sunday, April 20, 2014

Botanics



I had my usual walk/run in the Pentlands this morning, but didn't take many photos.  Had a good wander round the Botanics this afternoon though looking at the amazing display of flowers coming into bloom.




Beinn Chuirn

A rare day in the hills, with some great weather.

I'd had to go into the office on Friday, while the rest of the country was basking in wonderful spring sunshine.  It was good to see that the weather was due to hold for Saturday, so I was looking for something to do that would get a nice view while not being too far or too crowded.  I decided on the Corbett of Beinn Chuirn - it looked like it wouldn't be too tough and would give some great panorama from the top.


We parked at Tyndrum Lower station.  There was a good view behind to the Corbett of Beinn Odhar, the first o the Auch 5 that I still hope to tick off this year.   As we were getting ready to set off I chatted to a guy who was just getting back to his car after  spending some time on the hill with a metal detector.  I knew about the gold mine on this hill, but he told me of some old 18th century lead mines that sometimes give up some interesting bits and pieces.  He'd not found anything today though and was heading off somewhere else to pan for gold!

The forest road took us through cool trees with occasional glimpses over to the snow capped Ben More and Stob Binnein.

 
The track soon joined the one coming from Dalrigh, under the bulk of Ben Dubcraig.


Ben Lui, all corries and ridges, dominated the view to the west, with our Corbett to the right.  The track took us quickly to the farm buildings of Cononish.


We stayed on the track, noting where there was a locked gate on a road leading up to the gold mine in the side of this hill.


Ben Lui was getting bigger all the time, the snow caking it adding to its impact.


After a another kilometre or so, we went through a gate and then headed straight up the hill.  It was fairly steep initially, but we soon gained height and got some good views.



Catching a glimpse of a distant Ben Dorain
The ground was boggy in places, but you could usually avoid the worst of it.  Occasionally there were traces of a quad bike track, but it came and went.

Looking back to Ben More and Stob Binnein
There were lots of views to distract as we carried on up the hill

The Crainlarich hills
Ben Lui and Ben Oss, the Arrochar Alps behind
Once on the top the views were stunning and we spent 45 minutes or so, eating lunch and chatting with a guy that was already there.  We played name that mountain....and there were lots to recognise.

The Cruachan Range, above Loch Awe

Looking past the Black Mount hills, to Ben Nevis


Ben Nevis and the CMD arete


enjoying lunch

After a while we headed down, an easy trot down the grassy slopes.  Again, Ben Lui was stunning.
Beinn Chuirn
It was a good day.  Nice to be in the highlands again.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Conwy

I was down south at the weekend to visit my Mum.  On Saturday we went through to North Wales. In Conwy we bought another painting to hang on mum's bedroom wall, then we went to visit my brother in Colwyn Bay.


Conwy is always impressive - the castle looks just like a castle should - all walls and towers.


At the harbour this is the famous Smallest House in Wales or maybe even Great Britain.  .


Looking over the Harbour we could see Deganwy.  As a family we had lived there for 4 years, from when I was 2 until I was 6.    It is strange to be back there.  So many memories.  It is a place in which my Mum is happy.  She remembers good times there with my Dad.  Not just when they lived there, but later on when they would visit my brother.


I might as well also record that I had a run in the Pentlands on Friday before I went south.



Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Turnhouse Hill

Just a quick check in, I was up Turnhouse hill on Sunday morning, a fairly short leg stretch.  Walk up and run down.

Carnethy was covered in cloud, but it kept blowing through.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Allermuir again

I could have given it a miss this morning but it looked such a nice day - proper spring sunshine, even if it was windy.

I was tired and heavy legged from the day before and from a long week at work, but it was good to be out in the hills when it is quiet.  Coming up here early in the morning before the crowds are awake is always special.  My time in my hills.

Up past the new ski slopes and then onto the ridge.  Walking the hills and running (?!) the flats and downhills, right along to Allermuir.



The photo makes it look warm and summer-like, but it was cold and windy.



Out to the north the bigger hills were clear, with snow on them.  Ben Vorlich and the Stuc next to it were distinctive.


I jogged down, taking a detour to avoid a growing herd of Highland coos.



King's Seat Hill

Looking South form Kings Seat Hill
I didn't put anything on here last week.  Saturday I was otherwise occupied....speaking about the referendum at a Fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Edinburgh.  They are a strange bunch, but to be honest all those that really get into party politics are strange.  We did our slot, handled the questions and left.  To be met by the Socialist Worker demonstrators outside who called me Tory Scum....  I was at the Labour conference on Friday.   The same presentation, but nobody called me names.  Then last Sunday I was knackered and it was very windy, so I took that as an excuse not to go up the hills.

Yesterday, Saturday, I continued my recent habit of waking up at stupid times.  I ended up doing bits and pieces around the  flat for a while.  The forecast had been promising snow and nastiness but it didn't actually look too bad, so I went out with a few maps, thinking I'd decide between north or south to the Borders, when I got into the car.

The Ochils won.  They've been drawing me back recently.  About 10 years ago I used to come to these hills a lot.  I worked my way though the Donalds here and somehow didn't get in the habit of going back.  I always like it when I do though -  they are a short drive, easy walking on the tops, steep climbs to challenge fitness and a great sense of openness on the broad open ridges.  You also feel very much that you are on the fringe of the Highlands.  Geologically these are south of the Highland Fault Line (hence they hold Donalds) but with the flat Forth valley behind and views of the bigger hills to the north, you sense that you are on the edge of a different realm.

I'd been on Ben Cleuch a couple of weeks ago, so this time wanting a fairly short walk I opted for the easterly end of the range.

In Dollar the sign for Dolalr Glen and Castle Campbell points you through increasingly expensive houses, round tight bends and up a steep hill to a car park.  There is then the walk up the road to another car park where the sensible people had their cars - I parked lower and got the extra climb in my legs,



  You drop down towards the achingly cliched Castle.  You couldn't create something more dramatic if you tried.  I came here with my parents once and there was a wedding going on in the castle itself.  Such romance.


I took the path that followed the "Burn of Sorrow" (there must be a story there), past waterfalls in moist mossy clefts.

Out of the deep burn's shadows I found myself on the open hill and followed a path, muddy at times, but towards Bank Hill.  It was getting gloomy.  Tarmangie and Whitewisp to the northeast were cloaked by showers running in front of them.  It was windy and occasionally flakes of snow would be blown at me.


Higher up there were bits and pieces of snow on the ground.  It was a good walk though, steep enough to be work but not enough to get me out of breath.  I passed a memorial to an RAF plane that had crashed here during the war and thought about those that had died - they were just young lads in their teens and twenties.

The top came.  This is a hill with a open large summit area and there is another spot height on the map to the northeast, but with the wind, snow and worsening weather - hail showers were doing their usual trick of pinprick attacks - I decided that for me this was the top.  There is a bloody big cairn anyway, so others must agree.


I took some photos.  It was looking nasty towards Ben Cleuch


South there were pools of sunshine falling on some of the fields, although there was this thick line of apocalyptic cloud coming at me.


I returned the way I had come up.





Coming back towards Castle Campbell, its location high in this hidden glen caught my eye again.



A nice walk.  Needed after a long busy week.




Sunday, March 09, 2014

Ben Cleuch and Scald Law, Saturday and Sunday

Summit of Ben Cleuch

Finally the weekend came.  Another stupid week at work with too many long hours and task after task to tick off.  I even ended up doing a bit of work on Saturday morning, finishing something I'd abandoned on Friday night in order to join some equally stressed colleagues for a drink. I don't like working at the weekend though and was keen to get out and do something.

MWIS was making some scary predictions about the weather - wet and windy - with strange warning that any mobility would be "tortuous".  It didn't seem so bad in Edinburgh however...

I decided on another fairly familiar hill - Ben Cleuch in the Ochils.  A 721m Donald.  It is a walk I've done a couple of times before, and many other times I've wandered around the Ochils on other walks.  It is a fairly short distance from Edinburgh, over the new bridge to get to Tillicoutry.  I parked at the entrance to Mill Glen, expecting to take the pleasant walk through the damp and mossy glen, but it was closed off for some reason.  I followed the higher path which contours above the glen, then dropped down over a new wooden bridge at the foot of the Law.
The higher path, above Mill Glen, the path up the Law visible

There is a long steep slog up the Law and as I climbed the wind was getting stronger as my position became more exposed to it, any shelter being left behind.  It was vicious, knocking me about as I got higher, each blast pushing my poles as I moved them in front of me.

At the top of the Law there is a shot stretch where the path skirts behind the crest of the hill and for a moment there was shelter.  I lingered for a few moments preparing myself for the next assault.  The wind was vicious as I followed the fence higher then turned to the west climbing for the last stretch to the summit of Ben Cleuch.  The wind was wild, whipping my hood and making me fear that my glasses would be taken.



At the top I dipped behind the trig point but there was little shelter.  The view to the south was interesting, the Forth meandering across a broad plain, some sun on its waters.


I didn't hang about and rather than do a circuit, I decided to return the way I'd come, which was OK with new and different views opening up.


In the same bit of shelter I'd enjoyed on the way up I stopped for a bit and had a coffee from my flask, and something to eat, before continuing down.

Looking back towards Ben Cleuch.  A typical Ochil view!

I like these hills.  Like the Borders there are often fences to follow and big open expanses of land to explore  up high walking along broad grassy ridges.



The steepness that was apparent going up meant that the descent was fast too.


It was a popular hill yesterday too.  Not heaving, but the odd ones and twos.  I chatted to a few of those going up as I was coming down, warning them of the crazy wind that they were about to meet.





Then this morning I went for a walk up Scald Law.  It was mild but damp, a cloud sitting on the top of the hill.  There were no great views as it was drizzly, but over towards East Lothian, the shapes of North Berwick Law, Bass Rock and Trapain Law were all visible.


A nice couple of walks on familiar territory.